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DR of Congo: Security Council, Annan say inter-Congolese dialogue key to peace

DR of Congo: Security Council, Annan say inter-Congolese dialogue key to peace

The United Nations Security Council today called on all parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to respect the peace process and make an effort to engage in constructive dialogue that would end the hostilities in that war-torn country.

Following a day-long open debate on the situation in the DRC, Council President Ambassador Wang Yingfan of China read out a formal statement in which the 15-member body reiterated its firm support for the inter-Congolese dialogue, and the efforts of the facilitator of those talks, Ketumile Masire.

In the statement, the Council emphasized "the importance of an open, representative and inclusive dialogue free from outside interference and involving civil society leading to a consensus settlement."

The Council also welcomed the recent high-level meetings between the presidents of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda and encouraged them to find solutions to their common security concerns in accordance with the Lusaka ceasefire agreement.

Speaking this morning at the outset of the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called attention to the positive developments over the past few months - the holding of the ceasefire, the withdrawal of most of the forces, and the ongoing "positive and cooperative" relations between the Kinshasa Government and the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC). He warned, however, "the restoration of peace and stability in the DRC will ultimately rest on the success of the inter-Congolese dialogue."

In that context, Mr. Annan commended the "tireless" efforts of Mr. Masire that led to the adoption - by all parties - of the Declaration of Fundamental Principles of the Inter-Congolese Political negotiations. He also expressed gratitude to his Special Representative to the DRC, Kamel Morjane, who is leaving his position.

For his part, Mr. Morjane highlighted the need for a strategy to deal with the attacks by armed groups, particularly in the Kivu area, in order to ensure that the ceasefire is respected throughout the territory. The DRC, Rwanda and Uganda must work together to address the security concerns expressed by the Kigali and Kampala Governments, all the while respecting the territorial integrity of the DRC, he told the Council.